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On April 18, 1981, a ball game sprang eternal. What began as a modestly attended minor-league game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings became not only the longest ever played in baseball history, but something else entirely. The first pitch was thrown after dusk on Holy Saturday, and for the next eight hours the night seemed to suspend its participants between their collective pasts and futures, between their collective sorrows and joys—the ballplayers; the umpires; Pawtucket's ejected manager, peering through a hole in the backstop; the sportswriters and broadcasters; a few stalwart fans shivering in the cold.

With Bottom of the 33rd, celebrated New York Times journalist Dan Barry has written a lyrical meditation on small-town lives, minor-league dreams, and the elements of time and community that conspired one fateful night to produce a baseball game seemingly without end. Bottom of the 33rd captures the sport's essence: the purity of purpose, the crazy adherence to rules, the commitment of both players and fans. This genre-bending book, a reportorial triumph, portrays the myriad lives held in the night's unrelenting grip. Consider, for instance, the team owner determined to revivify a decrepit stadium, built atop a swampy bog, or the batboy approaching manhood, nervous and earnest, or the umpire with a new family and a new home, or the wives watching or waiting up, listening to a radio broadcast slip into giddy exhaustion. Consider the small city of Pawtucket itself, its ghosts and relics, and the players, two destined for the Hall of Fame (Cal Ripken and Wade Boggs), a few to play only briefly or forgettably in the big leagues, and the many stuck in minor-league purgatory, duty bound and loyal to the game.

An unforgettable portrait of ambition and endurance, Bottom of the 33rd is the rare sports book that changes the way we perceive America's pastime, and America's past.

Topics: Sports

Published: HarperCollins on Apr 12, 2011
ISBN: 9780062079022
List price: $9.99
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Baseball is my favorite sport, I am counting the days until it starts again. I’m not kidding, I have a countdown clock on my phone and every morning I look at it and get all excited about how many days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training. It therefore should not be surprising that when I was at the library and walking past the non-fiction section my eyes were drawn to the baseball books.On September 22, 2012 the Yankees played the A’s, that game lasted 14 innings, 5 hours and 43 minutes. The longest game for the Yankees since 2006. I was there for that game. I stayed for every inning, watched every pitch, every hit. The longest major league baseball game was 25 innings, but that isn’t the longest professional ball game every played, that honor goes to a minor league game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. This record still stands: 33 innings, 8 hours 25 minutes.There is a rule that a new inning cannot start after midnight, however the rule book the home plate umpire had did not have that paragraph in it, so play continued until 4 in the morning when the president of the league finally returned a phone call to the ball park. Play was halted at the 32nd inning. The next time the Red Wings were in town the game resumed. It took 1 inning and 18 minutes to finish the game. Two names you might recognize in this book are Wade Boggs, Pawtucket Red Sox and Cal Ripken, Jr., Rochester Red Wings.This book is more than just an account of a baseball game, we learn about life in the minor leagues, what players and managers and reporters had to put up with. We learn some of the history of the players, how their lives progressed after, who went to the major leagues and so on. Well written and interesting.read more
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The best baseball book I've ever read!read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bottom of the 33rd, is the story of the longest game in baseball's history, a game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. I admit that I was predisposed to like the book. Once when I was responsible for coming up with some trivia questions I chose to make questions about this game. And, by page 5 I knew this was a book that I would have to own. This is a rare book. The writing is one of the best examples of baseball storytelling that I have had the pleasure to read. By the end you know the town, the players - who they were and what they went on to become, and what the game was really - a moment suspended in time that seemed to stretch to infinity, "the night seems to have said something about time itself: the deceptiveness of it; the dearness of it. Beseeched by the older ballplayers to slow down the clock, and begged by the younger players to hasten it, the night choose instead to stop time; to place it under a stadium's laboratory lights and pin it to the Pawtucket clay." This book is a grand slam home run.read more
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Baseball is my favorite sport, I am counting the days until it starts again. I’m not kidding, I have a countdown clock on my phone and every morning I look at it and get all excited about how many days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training. It therefore should not be surprising that when I was at the library and walking past the non-fiction section my eyes were drawn to the baseball books.On September 22, 2012 the Yankees played the A’s, that game lasted 14 innings, 5 hours and 43 minutes. The longest game for the Yankees since 2006. I was there for that game. I stayed for every inning, watched every pitch, every hit. The longest major league baseball game was 25 innings, but that isn’t the longest professional ball game every played, that honor goes to a minor league game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. This record still stands: 33 innings, 8 hours 25 minutes.There is a rule that a new inning cannot start after midnight, however the rule book the home plate umpire had did not have that paragraph in it, so play continued until 4 in the morning when the president of the league finally returned a phone call to the ball park. Play was halted at the 32nd inning. The next time the Red Wings were in town the game resumed. It took 1 inning and 18 minutes to finish the game. Two names you might recognize in this book are Wade Boggs, Pawtucket Red Sox and Cal Ripken, Jr., Rochester Red Wings.This book is more than just an account of a baseball game, we learn about life in the minor leagues, what players and managers and reporters had to put up with. We learn some of the history of the players, how their lives progressed after, who went to the major leagues and so on. Well written and interesting.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
The best baseball book I've ever read!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Bottom of the 33rd, is the story of the longest game in baseball's history, a game between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings. I admit that I was predisposed to like the book. Once when I was responsible for coming up with some trivia questions I chose to make questions about this game. And, by page 5 I knew this was a book that I would have to own. This is a rare book. The writing is one of the best examples of baseball storytelling that I have had the pleasure to read. By the end you know the town, the players - who they were and what they went on to become, and what the game was really - a moment suspended in time that seemed to stretch to infinity, "the night seems to have said something about time itself: the deceptiveness of it; the dearness of it. Beseeched by the older ballplayers to slow down the clock, and begged by the younger players to hasten it, the night choose instead to stop time; to place it under a stadium's laboratory lights and pin it to the Pawtucket clay." This book is a grand slam home run.
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In Bottom of the 33rd, Dan Barry uses the historic 33 inning long game from 1981 as a framework around which to explore Minor League Baseball. A consummate researcher, Barry seems to miss nothing. He writes of the AAA players in the game, some of whom even non baseball fans will have heard. He shares the stories of the managers, ball boys, umpires, clubhouse guys, fans, journalists, player wives and the stadium itself. If that were not enough, even the beer distributors get in on the story.And, of course, there’s the game: 32 innings over Saturday, April 18th, and on until 4am, Easter morning, with the final inning two months later. The game may have dragged on, seemingly endless, but the book never does. The heartache of Minor League ball is palpable; the stories are fascinating.It’s hard to say if this book will resonate with someone who doesn’t at least like baseball, but anyone who’s enjoyed nine innings (or more) should find it a pleasure to read.
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Please note: This review contains what some might think of as spoilers.Excellent baseball book and wonderful book about people doing their best to make life work. "Bottom of the 33rd" is the story of the the longest game in minor (or major) league history between the Rochester Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox top farm teams for the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox. Barry does an excellent job of following up on players: Those like Cal Ripkin, Jr. and Wade Boggs who had solid careers in the majors and those like Dave Koza who had the game winning hit which turned out to be the highlight of his career. He also follows up on the owner and kids who worked in the park.The ultimate irony is that the game only went on to after 4 in the morning before being suspended after 32 innining because someone cutting and pasting the International League rule book for that year left out the paragraph requiring that no inning start after 12:50 am.The Paw Sox won the game in a one inning resumption in front of a full ballpark.
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Barry takes baseball's longest game between the Minor League AAA Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings as the starting point to reflect on the past, present and future of the participants, ball park and community. The game featured players both on their way up and down the ranks: some would play in future World Series (Cal Ripken, Jr., Bruce Hurst, Marty Barrett, Wade Boggs, etc.) and others would never make it to the majors for a cup of coffee. But Barry also features bat boys, club house attendants, announcers, attendees, wives, mayors, and more - all told with warm detail. There are some wonderful set pieces: A pitcher's wife furious and unbelieving when he arrives home in the early morning hours with the excuse that they were still playing the game. The Umpire's worried family calling local hospitals and the police when he doesn't come home. The inexplicable and unintentional omission from the International League Rulebook of the paragraph detailing curfews and calling of games. I have attended many a Pawtucket Red Sox game and knew well the basic outlines of this epic game, so was guaranteed to love this book. Baseball fans everywhere are sure to enjoy it. But even if you are a casual observer of the game, I recommend this. Barry looks beyond baseball to ambition, frustration, disappointment, marital devotion, boyhood yearning, irony, civic pride and careening emotions. We listened to the audiobook version on an 800 mile car trip, during which time it entertained multiple people of varying levels of baseball sophistication. The audiobook was charmingly narrated and contained snippets of the play-by-play by the Rochester radio announcer.
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